On March 13, 2023, Moore College hosted a special event showcasing a groundbreaking platform for studying 16th-century documents.
The platform, www.bullinger-digital.ch, uses cutting-edge AI technology to help researchers delve into the vast Heinrich Bullinger correspondence (HBBW). Developed in collaboration with the Institut für Computerlinguistik at the University of Zurich (UZH), this innovative tool is continually updated with new features and is freely accessible to all.
A total of 12,000 letters written to and from Bullinger have been preserved at the Zurich State Archives and the Zurich Central Library.
Thanks to the dedicated work of Prof Dr Peter Opitz and his team of experts, some of these letters (from 1524 to 1547) have already been edited and published by the IRG (https://www.irg.uzh.ch/de/bullinger-edition.html).
In recent years, Prof. Dr Martin Volk and his team have digitized many of these letters, making them easily accessible with just a mouse click. On February 24, 2023, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first letter of the HBBW, Prof Volk shared the impressive results achieved by his team using computer linguistic tools. The presentation can be viewed here: https://www.bullinger-digital.ch/downloads/Bullinger_digital_ZB_2021_11_03.pdf
The event at Moore College attracted researchers and enthusiasts interested in the 16th-century Reformation. Led by Prof Volk and Moore College’s Head of Church History, Dr Mark Earngey, the attendees were captivated by the platform’s use of AI to analyze the historical documents.
The presentation featured new updates added since the February talk in Zurich, sparking lively discussions and an informative Q&A session.
Despite the challenges posed by the fact that 75% of the correspondence was written in Latin and 25% in Early New High German, with additional letters in French, Italian, and Greek, the platform can accurately recognize and digitize the texts. This remarkable achievement is even more impressive considering the many different handwriting styles of the authors.
As Dr Mark Earngey noted, events like these highlight Moore College’s commitment to promoting innovative research and fostering a global community of scholars. The College eagerly anticipates this groundbreaking AI platform’s continued impact on the study of historical texts.
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